Journal directory listing - Volume 21-30 (1976-1985) - Volume 29 (1984)

A Study in Discriminating Old Masterpieces Author: Chang Te-wen


I. Why old paintings need to be discriminated?
1. Some artists in the past, while imitating originals, did not always mark their works with signatures.
2. Spurious authorship results in inconsistent styles.
3. Deliberating forgeries for monetary gain and for vanity.
4 Talented people are likely to make forgeries for amusement, showing off their technical versatility, etc.
These four factors cause confusion in old paintings. They can only be desig-nated as genuine and/or excellent after taking proper discriminating steps to pre-clude false or inferior ones.
II. Authenticating genuine originals from forgeries
The main basis on which a methodical authentication is to be established includes seven elements as the following:
1. Establishing styles of different times.
2. Recognizing individual styles.
3. Analyzing inscriptions, colophones and signatures.
4. Investigating seals.
5. Analyzing paper/silk,
6. Searching evidence from catalogs.
7. Using scientific tests.
III. Forming aesthetic judgments on excellence of works
There are three methods for studying the aesthetics of judging ancient scrolls:
1. Three traditional criteria on judging paintings, i.e. "six essentials", "three essentials", and "four essentials'" are to be analyzed and generalized to make new measurements.
2. The three criteria or measurements mentioned above can be used sepaately or mixedly as in the manner of cross reference.
3. According to the grades/degrees given to a certain artist by ancient authors, we find that their judgments show a uniformity up to 40% and, on the other hand, a discrepency up to 60%. Further research indicates that with the latter, 30% is attributable to the grades of one degree higher or lower, i.e., almost half of them; 25% to those of two to three degrees; and only 5% to four or more.
Suppose a number of critics today happen to be with competence of same level, a common share up to 70% may be expected to arrive at.
IV. Connoisseur's qualifications
A connoisseur should be one of the four professionals as the following: a. writer, b. collector, c. museum worker, and d. specialist in related fields. Besides, he should be armed with a. high intelligence, b. vast background know-ledge, c. good cultivation in art, and d. being capable of further learning,

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